Limerick trainer warns of over-exercising dangers

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Stepping up to the plate: TV star Richie Clifford in action at the University Arena. Picture: Arthur Ellis/Press 22.
LEGENDARY former runner and fitness trainer Richie Clifford has urged people to recognise the dangers of “over training”, as the country has become obsessed by health and fitness.

LEGENDARY former runner and fitness trainer Richie Clifford has urged people to recognise the dangers of “over training”, as the country has become obsessed by health and fitness.

The fitness trainer, who based at the University Arena in Castletroy and ran professionally up until 1990, said “there’s a fine balance between looking really great and being super-fit, and looking wrecked” from exercise.

“Exercise is an obsession, and when it becomes an obsession it becomes boring, you get injured, dehydrate your body and look tired. If you do too much it can be detrimental to you.”

“The amount of young people taking exercise classes at the moment is phenomenal, and people also need to be congratulated and encouraged for that. It has become a huge social thing now - for some people going to a class if like going to the pub.”

Nonetheless, the grand-father of one and father of four, who declines to reveal his age, admits he’s addicted to exercise. He teaches two total body work-outs each night, from Monday to Friday, in the University Arena in UL - or 10 high intensity classes a week. And at the weekend he cycles and goes hill-walking “for a break”, but he says he’s “clever to understand” when he overdoes it and then he takes three days off.

After appearing in the hit RTE2 show The Gym, as part of the Reality Bites series, Richie said he was amazed to see people who dropped out of his classes years ago suddenly returning, along with new recruits. Now dubbed the ‘Mr Motivator of Ireland’ by the Ray D’Arcy show, he said the reaction since he has appeared on the show has been “ballistic”.

With classes for up to 180 people now packed to capacity, he said staying in a positive mood and motivating people is one of the main parts of the job. “I live for exercise, but the thrill factor is seeing people get off the couch and doing the Limerick run. It’s a change of life for them.”

“Exercise can be the most simple thing in the world. All you have to do is get up off the chair or the couch and walk around the block and that’s your exercise. There’s nothing scientific about getting fit. If you just get up and walk you’ve lengthened your life. People get their hair done because it’s important to them. Exercise is the same thing, and it’s an investment in your body and your future. You’re alleviating terrible medical problems later on in life. You don’t have to be super-fit.” Richie, along with his two daughters, Joanna and Kate, wife Carmel, and father Phonsie, 82, will all be doing the six-mile walk and run in Barringtons Hospital Great Limerick Run together this year together as a family on Sunday, May 5. “It’s a big thing for us, we always do it together,” he said. For the past two years, he teaches the classes alongside his daughter Joanna, while daughter Kate also trains in the class.